Funding of what we often call culture and art with a possible important long term value but maybe more narrow interest in the current is a difficult challenge for most advanced societies. There are different models for this where everything from no public funding, to tax deductions to total top down funding from taxes exists. The real problems appear when budgets are tight and growth is declining. Most people agree that culture and art is necessary, but when prioritized side by side with e g personal safety, national security, availability of jobs and quality of health care and schools they usually appear at the bottom of the prioritization list.
This challenge is of course even more accentuated in times of economic crisis and in low growth societies.
If we look into the future this problem is likely to be much bigger that what it is today. The main reason is that tomorrow art and culture will be much closer to the core of health and life quality for the majority of the people who not anymore will have traditional 8-to-5 jobs as factory workers or well defined advanced service jobs.
New models for funding in general and models for funding art and culture in particular is therefore very interesting. I have been writing about kickstarter.com several times before, but not for the reason that it is used fund art and culture before. It is therefore a bit interesting to read in this NY Times post that 10% of the films in the famous Sundance Film Festival this year have in fact been funded by kickstarter.com:
A total of $130 million has been raised by the site [kickstarter.com], with film being the largest category, followed by music. Over 450,000 people have contributed to about 4,500 films on Kickstarter. Some people give so that they can see their name in the credits, or go to a premier or get a T-shirt. And some give just because they’d like to see the movie that is being pitched on a screen someday.
This might be an important trend showing us a glimpse of the future of how we fund culture and art in society.
Another article is describing a subscription business model for music. No, not the Spotify approach where you pay a fee to listen to their whole catalog by streaming. This is a record company Stone Throw in LA that believes that customers want to subscribe to the music that is published by that company. Read more here. This is a model which might work for artists who have have a devoted fan group that might pay an artist a sum each month to receive everything that artist publish.
One possible upside of inventing new business models for culture and art is that it has initially a huge potential of finding funding for rather narrow subjects which the people directly want to support but politicians and civil servants for one reason or another don’t agree with. It simply connects the artist directly to the consumer who believes the artist will create something in the future that makes it worth the money. A great risk is of course that politicians around the globe recognize this bottom up funding phenomenon and use it as argument for reducing public funding of art and culture.
Source: The New York Times